Injuries have been the major story during the first part of the Yankees’ season. Despite having stars like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Luis Severino on the injured list, the Yankees have managed to make it to first place in the American League East before the end of May, although it’s a close race in the division. They got bad news about one of their early-season injuries, however, as one of their young infielders is out for the season after playing just a dozen games.
Miguel Andujar’s shoulder injury
Third baseman Miguel Andujar suffered a shoulder injury in the Yankees’ third game of the season on March 31, and it caused him to miss all of April.
Andujar returned to action on May 4 and played in nine games, during which he went 3-for-34 at the plate. He served as the team’s designated hitter for all but two of the games he played in May, which — combined with his sub-.100 average in that stretch — may have been an indication to the Yankees that his shoulder still wasn’t right.
Andujar undergoes season-ending surgery
After Andujar went 0-for-5 at the Rays on May 12, the team announced that he will have right shoulder labrum repair surgery. He is expected to miss the remainder of the 2019 season. The New York Times’ James Wagner reports that the typical recovery timeline for a surgery like that is four to six months.
Andujar’s agent Ulises Cabrera said that his client “tried to give as much to the team as he could but realized that he just wasn’t physically able” to be as productive as he would like to be. While Andujar was hitting just .128 in his limited playing time this season, he hit .297 with 27 home runs last season, when he finished second to the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani in American League Rookie of the Year voting. They’ve survived and thrived with Andujar in and out of the lineup, but losing that kind of offense is a blow to the Yankees.
Replacements at the hot corner
With Miguel Andujar sidelined, Gio Urshela is the next man up at third base. He has been filling in nicely so far, hitting .346 in 104 at-bats, but he is unlikely to continue playing at that pace. Before this season, Urshela has not hit better than .233 in any of his first three seasons in the majors. Infielders Thairo Estrada and D.J. LeMahieu are also on the Yankees’ depth chart at third base. Don’t be surprised if the Yankees pursue another bat or two on the trade market before the July 31 trade deadline to fill in at third base or as a designated hitter.
Tight race in the AL East
The Yankees can’t afford to have players on the injured list for an extended period of time because they are involved in a tight three-team race in the AL East.
The Rays got out to a fast start and led the division early, but they have fallen back a bit and allowed the Yankees to take over first place. Despite getting off to a slow start in April, the defending World Series champion Red Sox are above .500 after a strong May thus far and are right in the thick of the race in the division.
The Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox should continue to play well throughout the season, so the close race might continue into September. Even though Andujar won’t be playing this year, the sooner the Yankees can get guys like Judge and Stanton — who has started his rehab assignment — back into the lineup, the better off they will be as they try to fend off the Rays and Red Sox to claim the division title.